The 1974 Circus Vargas herd featured a herd of nine ( including an African and a male ) in its second year of owning, rather than leasing, elephants.
The first five elephants, acquired in 1973, were acquired from Gene Holter of California - Minnie, Colonel Joe, Shirley, Virginia ( renamed Lottie ? ) and Judy. Four more animals were acquired the following year - Hattie, Trixie, Koora and Dutchess.
Colonel, Koora and unknown w/ Wally Ross
Courtesy of Buckles Woodcock
Dutchess' origins are unknown. She may have been acquired from a zoo like several other of the composed herd, per Buckles Woodcock. An April 1974 news article shares more about the animal. Described as 16 years old and 7000 pounds, Dutchess was offered for sale at a swap meet at the Orange County Fairgrounds for $10,000. Her trainer Clark Craig ( Bones Craig ? ) describes her as one of the best work elephants he has seen, as well as performing a circus routine. However, her sale is intended to reduce the size of the 9 member elephant herd. Representatives from a circus in Mexico and Lion Country Safari both showed interest in acquiring Dutchess.
It does not appear the sale of Dutchess ever came to fruition. She is listed in a 1977 Circus Report elephant census, with the same eight elephants from 1974 and four additional animals.
Dutchess' final departure is also unknown - whether she died on the show or was sold / traded as Rex Williams rebuilt the herd upon his arrival as trainer in late 1977.